Who Controls Your Life?
Does Jesus Control Your Life?
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I think a lot of us are in the situation that Mary sang about. I would suppose that most of us here this morning are reasonably respectable people and live fairly good lives and yet probably the thing she sang about came home to our own hearts. There’s probably not a husband or a wife here this morning or even a roommate or a friend who does not feel a little uncomfortable when she sings that song. Our Christianity today is full of “tryers”. We are noble sinners, or at least that’s what we like to think. We aren’t miserable drug addicts or we don’t have all kinds of fornication problems in our lives and so we are noble sinners and we also think we are good “tryers” because we are doing our best. We’re doing our best to be like Jesus.
Now the fact is loved ones, the things that you succeed in doing by your own efforts are not the important things. The important things are the places where you are not succeeding. You may say, “Now wait a minute, that’s bad psychology picking out the negative things when there are all kinds of good and positive things.” Not if the negative things are symptoms of cancer. There’s no point in saying, “Yes, I can really run fast and my appetite is good and I’ve all kinds of other marks of health. I admit I do have cancer in my lungs but let’s not lay emphasis on that kind of thing. Let’s talk about the good marks of health that I have.” You see how meaningless that is because it’s the cancer that will get you in the end.
So, it’s very important in a group such as we are this morning, that you don’t play church. Don’t listen to her singing that song and say, “Oh yes, that’s nice. We’re not able and we’ll just leave it all to Jesus and sometime, somehow, some place, I will begin to come into victory.” Really loved ones, you’ll never come into victory unless you look squarely and bluntly at the places in your life where you’re not like Jesus. Those are the important places. Those are the places where the cancer is and those are the places where you haven’t entered fully into the Savior. Now, what you need to do this morning is throw away your defensiveness.
Really, too many of us are in the same boat. We don’t need to defend ourselves against each other and certainly you don’t need to defend yourself against me this morning. I encourage you to see that the places where you’re not like Jesus, those are the places where your salvation is not full and complete. God has called us to complete salvation and you know that as we get into advent, we will start reading verses like that one where Joseph is told to call the baby’s name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins.
That means I’ve to be saved from my sarcasm. I’ve to be saved from my irritability. I have to be saved from my unbelief and my discouragement. A lot of us think, “Well, discouragement isn’t a sin or worrying isn’t a sin.” But they are. God has told us be of good courage, be courageous. He has told us do not be anxious, have no worry about anything. So if you do either of those things, if you either lack courage and get discouraged and get down about things, or if you get worried about things, you’re disobeying God and whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. That is sin.
Now, why I lay that on you is so that you’ll see there is further that God has for you to go in Jesus. I think where many of us are missing the great salvation that God has for us is we have become noble sinners. We have become quite respectable and indeed with the aid of some psychology
books, you’ve maybe gone a little beyond that and have gained some victory in some areas of your life. But do you see that those aren’t the important things. The ones that you can do yourself are not the evidences of salvation. The evidences of salvation are the ones you can’t do yourself.
We’ve got into a habit where we say, “Oh the good that I would I cannot do.” We’re all in the same boat. “The good that I would I cannot do.” Well, that’s where the salvation is needed. It’s not salvation where you’ve been able to do it yourself. It’s salvation where you can’t do it and that’s what we need to seek in Jesus this morning. So we need to be real and honest and be right before God. If you find that you’re worrying and being anxious or you find that you get discouraged or you get down about things or you are caught in unbelief at times, then those are places which show that you are still dwelling in your own life and running it. It means Jesus has not taken you over completely and that is the growing edge of your relationship with Him this morning. That’s where He can really save you today.
Now if you say to me, “Brother I don’t even want to touch that stuff because I have tried to overcome these things so often and I have failed and I do not want to touch something that I can’t see a way through to.” Don’t you see that that’s where salvation is? Salvation is being saved from things that you cannot save yourself from. So those are the very places where Jesus wants to touch you this morning.
Now if you say to me, “Well, maybe I’ll just admit to God that these things are here. I’ll admit to Jesus that I need something done. But I’ll go out of here and keep trying this week and still get nowhere.” That’s the first step. The first step is to put down in your diary or put down on a little scrap of paper or even just put down in your head, “Lord, I have not been saved from discouragement. I do get discouraged. I do get down about things. When things don’t seem to be going right, I do find my eyes looking at the circumstances and I do get down about things. Lord, I do worry. I do get anxious. I do have butterflies in my stomach when there is a tough situation coming up at work. I do Lord, and I need to be saved from this. You have told me that you will save me from every sin. Lord, I need to be saved from that.”
The first step loved ones is to acknowledge that you need it. So, I would encourage you to stop playing games. You’re great, you’re fine people. We’re all fine people. We’re just wonderful people. Let’s accept that we’re quite a nice group here. We’re not criminals and they’re not putting us in jail. We’re quite a good bunch. So let’s take all that as said but, there are areas in your life where you have not experienced Jesus’ salvation. Now, those are the growing places.
Now if you say to me, “Well, why have I not accepted Jesus’ salvation or experienced it?” Usually, it’s because that’s an area of your life that you’re still controlling. You get discouraged about your job, because you’re still trying to control your job life. You still think that is your responsibility. You still think controlling your job and controlling the move from this position to that position is your right.
You are a servant of God. God has put you here. This dear word says, “To walk in good works that He has prepared beforehand for you.” At times that may mean that you walk in a good job, at times it may mean that you walk in a bad job. At times it may mean that you walk in a well-paid job, at times it may mean that you walk in a badly paying job. At times it may mean you walk in a job where everybody thinks you’re just wonderful, at times it may mean you walk in a job where everybody thinks you’re hopeless and incompetent. But that is an area that needs to be under Jesus’ control where He can run it whatever way He wants.
So, if you find an area where you know there’s sin or there’s strain, or there is a failure in your life then that’s an area where Jesus is not in control. Now if you say to me, “Well, do we just say, Lord, take that over?” No, because there are a thousand ways in which you need to see that Jesus is not in control. You need to ask Him, you need to supplicate. You need to plead with Him and say, “Lord Jesus, through Your Holy Spirit, will you show me in what way you are not in control of my job life? In what way I am running it myself?”
It’s the same in your family life and your home life. If you find tension and strain and bad temper and irritability, (now obviously you don’t find those all the time because on the whole you manage to live a sane life but if you ever find them,) it’s like a symptom of cancer. It doesn’t matter if you only find it once; it means the disease is there. So if you find irritability or an attitude of self-pity in your family life, only once, then that’s the place where Jesus is not in control of your life.
Now, here is the amazing thing. If you’re in control of it, you’re taking on more than you need to. You’re bearing more burden than you need to and many of us are. Many of us regard our home life as something that we ought to control. We ought to make it go satisfactorily and successfully. No, it isn’t. It is a place where Jesus has the right to control and He has the right to decide what is good and what is bad.
Part of our problem is we get an atmosphere in the home that doesn’t seem right and we feel we have to correct that. Now this sounds strange but if God has allowed that atmosphere to develop, He knows it’s there. He already has plans to deal with it and He wants you to rest in that and have faith in Him and not try to do His job for Him. So often, you are not only indulging in sin of different kinds but you are actually bringing a great burden on yourself through trying to run these things on your own. Jesus is well able to do it Himself. And it’s the same with those of us who have difficulties with sex life or who have difficulties with our relationships with other people or have difficulties with evil thoughts.
It’s not because you’re not trying to overcome, you are. But it’s because YOU are trying to overcome. You regard those things as your right to decide how you’re going to do them and what you’re going to do. Jesus wants to take over your sex life or wants to take over your relationships with other people and He wants to run it. In other words, the Savior wants to live in your life every moment and He wants you to be just part of Himself.
You remember John 15 says we’re just “a branch of the vine.” All the branch does is help the juice from the vine to get through to the grapes. That’s all you’ve to be. You’ve not to be a self-runner or a self-organizer. In that way you’ve not to be a self-starter. Jesus is to be your self-starter. Jesus is to be the one that rules and guides your life. And so on a morning like this, it’s important after somebody has sung a song like that, to be real before God, just quietly real and not defensive. I am not saying you’re not saved or you’re not going to heaven. I don’t think that’s the issue at all. I think the issue is if the Holy Spirit has revealed to you some areas in your life where you are not victorious, and where you are not having complete victory, then those are growing areas where Jesus wants to take over completely.
Now if you say to me, “How? How on earth does He do that?” Well, really you give up. You give up. You give up running that part of your life. Do you realize loved ones how many thoughts and concerns we all have in these little brains? We’re thinking, “What will that person think? What will my wife
do? What will my son or my daughter do? What will happen to my life?” We have a thousand considerations that we reckon we have to satisfy in regard to our home life, our job life, our fellowship life, or our relationship life. Throw those away, that’s not your job to satisfy all those things.
Your job is to give up running your life to satisfy all the things that you think have to be satisfied. Instead you turn to the Savior and say, “Lord Jesus, I am making an increasing mess of this part of my life. Lord, I believe that when you died on Calvary, you took my whole life to death with you. You took me to death with you. Lord Jesus, I want to give up and give this part of my life to you. Do whatever you want with it. Savior, will you show me if there is any part of it that I am not willing to give up?” And Jesus’ Spirit will reveal that to you loved ones and you need to look at that.
If you say to me, “Well, what do I do? Do I just pray and lie back and hope for Him?” No, you use your mind as He prompts you. “Why do you do that? Why do you get irritable there? Why do you get angry there? Why do you worry there? Why do you push your own will there? Why do you try to make things happen there?” As He points that out to you, use your mind to look in and say, “Well, why do I? Why do I?” Usually it’s because you have all kinds of fears of what will happen to your life and what other people will think of you and how you’ll be looked down upon and how you won’t succeed. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.
None of these people, none of us here are probably going to be around you when you die. None of us are going to be around you when you meet Jesus face-to-face. It doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks of you. All that matters is that you join Jesus on the Cross where everybody looked down on Him and spat upon Him and insulted Him and thought wrong things about Him and treated Him unjustly. All you have to do is join Him in that place on the Cross and accept your place in Jesus and let Him run your life completely and let Him determine what is right or what is wrong to do.
Loved ones, when you do that, then Jesus enables you to live above sin. See, I think many of us have been so brainwashed with the idea that you cannot be free from sin that we just think, “No, you can’t live above sin. I’ll always have this selfish ambition inside me. I’ll always have this critical attitude to other people inside me.” No, no. Jesus came to cleanse your heart through the Holy Spirit. He came to live His life through you, in place of you, that’s why they call it the exchanged life. You take your place on the Cross and He takes His place in you and He lives His life over again in you and you give up once and for all your life and the right to run it your way.
If you say to me, “Well, can you experience that in a moment?” Of course, you can. That’s what the real meaning of the fullness of the Holy Spirit is. The Holy Spirit is not just dwelling in you and controlling bits of your life. He’s controlling all of you. And until you come into that, your life is always a “trying” life. It’s always a life that is saying, “Oh I am not able. God, you must do it for me.” And somehow He never does do it for you and you keep on just pleading that you are poor and you can’t do it.
Your life is always going to be a life of defeat unless you believe that there can come a moment in your heart where what happens is what Peter described as happening to the Gentiles. He said, “God gave the Holy Spirit to them as He did to us and cleansed their hearts by faith.” He cleansed them and it was done in a moment (it’s the aorist tense in Greek which means it was done in a moment) and it was finished. That’s our only hope that God can do that in a moment because you and I have tried the gradual approach for years. We know it just gets worse and we just get more subtle in our sin.
But God has a place that’s possible to us where we enter into Jesus fully. We commit our self and our life fully to Him and we allow Him to take over every area of our life.
Now loved ones, you know what areas of your life bring you defeat and only you know. You’re the only one that can really deal with Jesus about that. I don’t know what it is for you, I knew what it was for me. Unless you bring it to the light, unless you acknowledge it before Jesus, you’re going to take that to the grave with you. It will pull you down whatever it is. It will pull you down. So that’s the place where Jesus has to save you.
Now, if you’re still back there at the spot where you say, “Well, I am a Christian. I am a church member. I know my sins are forgiven.” I know that, I know that and so were many of us. We knew our sins were forgiven. We knew we were going to heaven but we were still in the same position as Paul when he cried out, “The good that I would I cannot do and the evil I hate is what I do.” We were in that spot. We were good Jews. We knew that our sins were forgiven but we had not been delivered from the power of sin.
Do you see that it’s no use saying, “Pastor, do you know that I have been delivered from the power of sin in many places?” Yes, so had I. We have been delivered from the power of sin in many places. That’s as much as doesn’t matter. The place that matters is where you haven’t been delivered from the power of sin because that’s the place where the cancer is. It doesn’t matter if you show the doctor, “Look! Haven’t I rosy cheeks? Don’t I look so well, as long as you don’t look at the place where I have cancer?” That’s not sensible.
The wise thing is to say, “Lord, You have done much for me but there is a place here in my life where I still face defeat. Lord Jesus, I ask You by Your Holy Spirit to show me in what way I am controlling that part of my life and in what way I have not died to my right to be God there and in what way I have not died to what will happen to my reputation in that area. Lord Jesus, I ask You to show me that. Then Lord, will You explain to me how You included me in Your death on Calvary in regard to that sin? Will you show me so I can accept that with you, enter into your death with you, and enter into Your Resurrection?”
Loved ones, the Lord Jesus will deal with you. And He is well able to do it this very morning in this service. But whatever time He does it, He will do it if you will let Him. He will deliver you and save you from all sin. That’s what He came to do, to deliver you and save you from all sin. There’s nothing less than that good enough for God and nothing less than that is good enough for you.
It’s not all the wonderful places where we have victory that fill your thoughts. It’s the places which constantly trip you up day-after-day, those are the things that wear you down and that bring guilt to your conscience. So, would you this morning, as we have a time of quietness, would you be honest with Jesus about the areas of your life where there is sin? I remember John Wesley saying that we human beings always think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. So, be hard on yourself.
You may be able to sit there this morning and say, “Well, as I look around here, I am a pretty fine fellow. I really don’t see much improvement that is needed.” That’s to be expected. What you should do is sit there and say, “Lord, if my wife were to give my testimony, what kind of testimony would it be? If my wife were to go before you on judgment day and describe to you the kind of person that I am, how would she describe me? Or my roommate or my dad or my mom or my colleague at work or my
fellow student at school, if they were to look at me how would they describe me?” In other words, look at your worst enemy and ask the Lord, “What does he say about me and is there anything in that?”
But most of us sitting here this morning know we don’t even need to go that length. We just need to look at: signs of irritability, signs of criticism of other people, times of sarcasm, times of worrying and discouragement, times of getting down about things, times when we have unclean thoughts that we’re ashamed of or times when we don’t quite lose our temper but we certainly lose control of things.
Those are the places where we need to deal with Jesus about this morning. And if we don’t, (if a group of people like ourselves who are pretty sane and sensible and normal people), if we don’t do this, what hope is there ever for us? You must admit there couldn’t be an easier situation or atmosphere in which to deal with Jesus about these things than we have here this morning. And if we don’t deal with Him now, when will we ever deal with Him? And if you don’t deal with Him, gradually those things take over your life, that’s it.
Gradually the sin that you do not allow Jesus to save you from begins to pervade your whole life and it contaminates everything else in you. So loved ones, it is like cancer. It is like poison. It is like AIDS. It is like any disease that is lethal and mortal. It will destroy you if you do not allow Jesus to deliver you from it. And He can, this morning. Because the truth is, every sin is simply you running things, you being God, you ruling things yourself instead of Jesus.
So will you now during these quiet moments be real before the Lord? If you say to me, “Pastor, I have done this a thousand times.” Loved ones, be honest before God. Be honest before Him. If you’re going towards life, He is able to do something for you. If you ever get to the point where you stop going towards life and you start saying, “Oh I have done this a thousand times”, then you’re going towards death and He can do nothing for you. No, faith is taking the first step.
If you say to me, “How do I know that there’ll be something beyond that first step?” Only He knows that. That’s where many of us get into trouble because we try to run our own method of salvation. Only He knows. Take the first step and be honest with Jesus this morning. Let’s pray.
Lord Jesus, as you see us now, you know the places in our life where we have not been saved. You know the areas in our lives where we have besetting sins. You know Lord, things that we are doing that we know we shouldn’t do. You know Lord, attitudes that rise up within us that are filled with sin and uncleanness and we can’t help them rising. Lord, You know these places. We ask You Savior, will you reveal these places to us now? You who bore the pain of these things being destroyed forever on Calvary and you who have to look at them destroying our lives, will You reveal them to us now? Bring them to our minds and our memories. Bring before us now any area of our life where we do not have victory. Lord enable us to acknowledge that to You, to say to You, “Lord Jesus, I do not have victory in this. I do not have victory in that. Lord Jesus, I sin here, I sin there.”
Now Lord, through Your Holy Spirit, will You help us to see in what way that sin is there because of our controlling things, our ruling things, and because of our belief that we are good enough. Lord Jesus will you reveal that to us? Show us Lord in what way we are still full of ourselves, in what way we are full of egotism, in what way we still think we can do it with a little help from you.
Lord, if there is something that we are not willing to let happen in this area of our lives, if
there is something that could be your will and we are not willing for it, Lord will You reveal that to us? Will you show us if there’s anything that we’re holding grimly in our hands and have not released into your keeping? Lord we know that that is the key. It is that unwillingness to let happen what you may want to happen that brings this under our control and out of yours.
Now Lord Jesus, we know that on Calvary, You destroyed that grim grip that we have. You destroyed all the ways in which we are connected with the principalities and powers, by this unwillingness. Lord Jesus, You freed us and delivered us completely from this strain and agony that accompanies our determination that these things must go our way. Lord, You destroyed all that. You released all that on Calvary. Lord Jesus, we only have to move our little finger and say, “All right, all right Lord, whatever You want to do, whether it destroys me or not, whether it destroys all I planned for, Lord You do what You want. I will take my place in death with you on Calvary and refuse to call down angels to save me.”
Savior, will you take over that part of my life? Will you take over every part of my life? Will you fill it with yourself and run it the way you want so that I am no longer alive but that you are alive in me. And from now on, I will live this life by your faith and not my own. Lord Jesus, I give myself to you now and give you the right to run all of my life whatever it may mean for you, whatever it may mean for me.
And now, the grace of our Lord Jesus and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us, now and evermore. Amen.